The future of the soap opera is online.
Prospect Park’s reboot of All My Children and One Life to Live aren’t the only soap operas available online. Traditional soap operas, such as the Bold and the Beautiful, have fan made channels on Roku. Discontinued soap operas are well represented on YouTube, through illegal uploads by fans, and Hulu still shows episodes of currently running soap operas that are still on network television. Those looking for something completely different, would like WIGS, a soap opera available on YouTube, featuring the likes of America Ferrera, Jennifer Beals and Julia Stiles.
WIGS is a guilty pleasure. Episodes are typically between 7 and 12 minutes in length, through 23 episode seasons. WIGS also has a documentary component where they recognize women that have triumphed through adversity in real life soap opera situations. The production values are exceptionally high, considering that the show is available completely online.
AMC and OLTL are only 30 minutes this time around, which actually works for me because the old versions were too long for my tastes, though they were fun to watch because of the expensive lighting and digital camera setups (before high-definition digital camera was affordable for all) that were ahead of their time. Their current iteration is low budget, but what is lacking in visual appeal is made up for in the exceptional scripts, as Agnes Nixon is the head creative consultant on both soap operas. All My Children has the same writers, One Life To Live has brought on new creative talent, but is essentially the same soap opera it has always been.
Personally, all of the soap operas should move online and allow daytime television to evolve and redefine itself. Dramatic soap operas like WIGS, that deal with serious issues and detail women that are “broken” psychologically, as they struggle with self-esteem and sexual abuse, are the future of this genre. WIGS is not about the men in these women’s lives, and it is not about couples or family power struggles, it is completely different. It is the convergence of the soap opera with Law and Order Special Victims Unit.
The problem WIGS has, is that it hides in plain sight. The idea that anyone with an Android device capable of playing back video can watch soap operas that aren’t illegally uploaded to YouTube seems too good to be true. But I’ve watched WIGS on everything from the desktop, to my cheap $79 smartphone, to the YouTube app on my BluRay player. I was watching it on Roku before they shut down VideoBuzz, a work around for Roku’s ongoing dispute with Google over YouTube. WIGS is now available on Hulu.
Another problem with WIGS is that everyone is crowding Blue, their premier series with Julia Stiles, and aren’t giving Lauren, their second most popular offering, much of a chance. Lauren doesn’t have any celebrity actors, and though the writing is just as good, it didn’t do as good as Christine, which featured America Ferrera. Both Lauren and Blue are in their second season. To be totally honest, as good as America Ferrera is, Christine lost steam midway into the season.
Soap operas have a bright future online, regardless of whether they are exclusive to Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, YouTube, or some other platform. Network websites are pretty much dead, and unless network’s reboot their web offerings, such as CBS has done with TV.com, everyone will go through their usual means to watch content on the Internet. The TV.com app is even better than the website. At this point networks couldn’t offer original content on their websites if they wanted too, though a lot of websites try, particularly NBC.com, which always has some experimental web only programming.